I loved Dave Cousin’s debut novel 15 Days Without a Head so had very high hopes for this book. Within the first few pages I knew he’d done it again, c...moreI loved Dave Cousin’s debut novel 15 Days Without a Head so had very high hopes for this book. Within the first few pages I knew he’d done it again, creating a warm, funny and touching contemporary tale with great depth.
Oz, the main character of the book, is a brilliant character – I loved how his actions were almost always well intentioned, but had a habit of going wrong. I laughed as he made his way from one scrape to the next, in between wincing at some of the calamities he created.
One of the central relationships in the book is the one between Oz and his older sister Meg. Whilst they bicker and argue there is absolutely no mistaking the strength of their relationship, as an older sister who has always had a strong relationship with her younger brother I really loved this element of the book. Whilst our lives were never as complicated as Oz and Meg’s I could definitely see the similarities.
I hadn’t worked out the gist of the book from the blurb and so was surprised by the direction the book took, and indeed who the titular Gonzo was. This was all to the good, the potentially tricky subject matter was handled with skill – there’s no judgement, no wringing of hands, simply practical honesty and warmth.
Ryan, the hobbit-obsessed geek, who befriends Oz when no one else at school will was another favourite character of mine. I always love the addition of a geeky character who is there simply as part of the ensemble, rather than to be pointed at and laughed at, Ryan certainly had his part to play and reminded me at times of both myself and other geeky friends.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, one that I’m looking forward to recommending to other readers old and young alike.(less)
This is the first of the companion novels to Pushing the Limits, it focuses on Beth - Noah's friend and housemate and introduces Ryan, a baseball star...moreThis is the first of the companion novels to Pushing the Limits, it focuses on Beth - Noah's friend and housemate and introduces Ryan, a baseball star in the making.
I have to admit, when I read about the dare element of this book I was really worried. I generally find that books with secrets like this leave me so stressed out as I read, and so I end up not really enjoying the book. I was so pleased to find that this part of the plot didn't play out as I'd expected it to, and so I could just enjoy the reading experience.
The majority of this book is set at a different school, in a different town, to Pushing the Limits so there's a whole new lot of characters to get to know. Beth makes numerous trips back home though, giving us time to catch up with Echo and Noah, and with Isaiah.
This isn't a perfect book, but the writing is so good that I was completely swept away by the reading experience and can happily overlook things that might have been gripes in a weaker book. I'm completely in love with this series, I think it's the closest a series of books have got to making me feel the way watching Friday Night Lights did.(less)
I really loved Pushing the Limits and was thrilled to hear there would be further books and novellas featuring key characters. This is the first of th...moreI really loved Pushing the Limits and was thrilled to hear there would be further books and novellas featuring key characters. This is the first of the novellas, focusing on Lila - Echo's best friend. I must admit it took me a few pages to settle into the book, and understand how it fitted into the world McGarry has created, but as soon as I'd done so I loved it.
Whilst it is a much shorter story, I didn't feel robbed or cheated - the characters are still well developed and I really cared about them. I particularly loved hearing about Lila's wonderful organisational techniques - I've got a few new ideas to try now!(less)
Regina is the focus of this book, once a member of the highest and meanest tier of school, some pretty awful actions mean her position changes overnig...moreRegina is the focus of this book, once a member of the highest and meanest tier of school, some pretty awful actions mean her position changes overnight - she's now at the very bottom of the pile and number one target for her former co-conspirators. The opening of the book, the incident that causes this downfall, is hard to read and leaves you wondering what else is going to happen in this book.
The book is all about the social structure of high school, particularly the more toxic aspects of it. The teenagers in this book are not nice, they have few if any redeeming qualities. Their actions are brutal, and the consequences are far reaching. All of this makes the book a gripping, but unpleasant read - the tension levels at times made me feel sick with nerves. Never once though was I put off, this is such a strong novel, it's hard, shocking and oh so very real. It's been a couple of weeks since I read it, and still I'm thinking about aspects of it - truly a book that gets under your skin.(less)
I loved horse books when I was younger, my copy of Jill’s Gymkhana actually fell apart through repeated readings, so I was intrigued by this contempor...moreI loved horse books when I was younger, my copy of Jill’s Gymkhana actually fell apart through repeated readings, so I was intrigued by this contemporary book that sounded like it had a similar horsey theme. When my copy arrived I was really taken but its appearance, the contrast of the black and white photographic cover with the bright pink page edges is really striking.
I really enjoyed reading this book, it’s somewhat predictable in that way most sports based stories are (whilst i love sports stories and don’t mind this in the slightest I know not everyone feels the same) but there are some lovely facets to the plot that make it an enjoyable, captivating read. Casey is an appealing character, and I found I really got behind her and her one dollar horse Storm Warning.
Whilst I liked this book a lot, I did have a couple of minor quibbles. A number of the characters are referred to with their full name – her dad is frequently referred to as Roland Blue in particular. I found this a little jarring. The pacing of the book is also a little unusual, it covers quite a long time so has jumps in from period of action to period of action with a short explanation of what has happened in the mean time, this generally works well but a couple of times I felt like I’d missed out by not getting to read about things in the in between times.
This is the first book of a trilogy, but also works well as a standalone – there is only one plot thread left completely unresolved by the end of the book and whilst I really want to know what happens next I don’t know whether younger readers would care so much as it features a minor character. I am pleased that the second book Race the Wind is already out, I shall be getting hold of it as soon as I can.(less)
I must begin by saying I have never read a book like this before. I usually avoid books that appear to be overtly pink and princessy, but lovely Hanna...moreI must begin by saying I have never read a book like this before. I usually avoid books that appear to be overtly pink and princessy, but lovely Hannah at Walker made such a great pitch for this book that I knew I had to give it a chance rather than pre-judging it. And I’m really glad I did.
This is a lovely book, I adored Lily, the character this first book focuses on, from the very beginning and really cared about what happened to her. She lives with her great aunt, a dreadful woman who treats her so badly, I spent the whole book wishing for her to get her comeuppance!
The Stargirl Academy itself seems like a really lovely place, I really liked the staff members that we meet in the first book – especially Fairy Mary McBee. The ethos I love too – the focus is on using the spells they learn to help other people, I think this adds a lot to the overall warmth of the book.
I think this series of books will be really popular, I know I’m a complete convert and will most definitely be reading the other five in the series – I need to know how the girls earn the rest of their stars!(less)
Wow. What a book! It tackles a pretty big and tricky topic, and it does it so well. I paused a few times to marvel at how well balanced it was, you ge...moreWow. What a book! It tackles a pretty big and tricky topic, and it does it so well. I paused a few times to marvel at how well balanced it was, you get to see both Chris and Imran’s sides of the story. The book’s written in such a way that you feel like you have an understanding of why they, Imran in particular, make the decisions that they do but whilst it tries to explain things it never tries to justify them.
Structurally this book’s quite complex, there’s the storyline of what’s happening the day the book is set and then there’s the storyline of what happened to the two boys from the time they were boys right up until the day the book is set. These two storylines are skilfully woven together, and told from both perspectives so the reader really gets a sense of the characters and their relationships.
There’s a real sense of peril throughout the book. The opening chapter sets up an end point for both storylines and I found as I got further and further through it my heart started racing a little faster, wondering how it was all going to resolve.
All in all, an impressive read, and one that’s made me determined to read more by Alan Gibbons. (less)
Wow, this was such a contrast to many of the books I've read lately. A tale of grief and vengeance, this is a dark and at times disturbing read. It’s...moreWow, this was such a contrast to many of the books I've read lately. A tale of grief and vengeance, this is a dark and at times disturbing read. It’s utterly captivating, I put off stopping to have lunch because I was so desperate to find out what was going to happen.
It feels quite claustrophobic at times, the way it is written really evokes the sense of the hot, bustling city – I felt that this worked so well to mirror how everything is weighing down on Yukio. This was paired with the lighter, almost redemptive sub plot focusing on Yukio’s visiting niece – a really welcome addition to the story.
One thing I did find was that I had to remind myself at times that Yukio is only 14 years old. I found that the decisions he makes and actions he takes often made it feel like he is much older than he is. I think this book’s probably better suited to slightly older teens than Yukio, I think it could make an excellent book group title – there’s certainly lots of scope for discussion.(less)
This was such an interesting read, I don’t know that I could put a label onto it – it fits into so many different categories. At its very essence it’s...moreThis was such an interesting read, I don’t know that I could put a label onto it – it fits into so many different categories. At its very essence it’s a book about life and death, about what makes us human and about how we relate to one another. From the opening line “The first time I died, I didn’t see God.” it had me in its grips and I couldn’t read it fast enough.
Delaney doesn’t really understand what’s happening to her. She understands that she fell through the ice, and that she died for 11 minutes. She understands that she shouldn’t have survived, and that she certainly should be as well as she is – she sees the images of her brain scan and how damaged it is. What she doesn’t understand is why shy didn’t die, and why she’s now feeling just that little bit disconnected from the world. This sense of unease and confusion works really well to bring the reader into the book, we’re as confused by what’s going on as she is, and we keep reading to find out the answers she’s looking for.
Meeting Troy and finding out that he too is drawn to the dying, and that he too was in a coma is an interesting development in the plot. I found I was uneasy about him from the very start, the creeping sense of dread his presence caused kept me on the edge of my seat and the conclusion of the story really made me stop and think.
I found that I liked Delaney but again it was her close friend Decker that I really loved. He provided some much needed stability in the story both for me as the reader and for Delaney.
I’ve discovered that there will be a companion novel / sequel to Fracture out next year. I’m already looking forward to revisiting these characters.(less)